Senator Ardagh calls on the Minister to give a full statement in relation to school closures due to structural defects in their construction and asks why the department did not assess the buildings independently at the time of completion and handover
Victims of domestic violence should be provided with the assistance they need to seek safety – Ardagh
Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that while statistics show more women than men in Ireland are affected by physical, verbal or psychological abuse, this is an issue that affects us all.
The Crumlin based Senator raised the matter in Seanad Éireann this week to coincide with a two-day international summit held by leading agency, Safe Ireland to highlight domestic violence and abuse.
She said, “It is evident from a number of recent high profile cases that many women and men in Ireland are experiencing physical violence, psychological turmoil or financial abuse by an intimate partner.
“Statistics show that more women than men are affected but this is an issue that affects us all. In 2017, some 15,833 disclosures of domestic violence against women were recorded by the Irish non-for-profit, Women’s Aid. The annual report published by men’s support charity, Amen indicated that in 2016, 5,196 disclosures of domestic abuse were made.
“As legislators, it is incumbent on us to be more conscious of these crimes and to better ensure that the correct supports are in place for those suffering domestic violence or abuse.
“Getting out of an abusive relationship is very often hinged on a person’s ability to attain legal representation or advice. This is especially the case when a victim must pursue a complex legal matter, court approval for a barring, safety or protection order.
“Our Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2018 which seeks to afford greater legal support and protection to the victims of crimes of this nature has just passed Second Stage in Dáil Éireann. It was referred to committee stage earlier this month.
“Fianna Fáil is examining more practical measures too including the introduction of paid work leave for victims of domestic abuse.
“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month but the focus on improving the supports offered and minimising the fears for those suffering physical, sexual or mental abuse must continue.
“By the statistics, there is likely someone in all our lives who has faced, or is facing, domestic violence of some degree.
Senator Ardagh concluded, “As a society we must first examine why we create and sustain domestic violence and then spur for positive social change. “
Senator Ardagh raises concerns in relation to 6,100 people waiting for Home Help hours nationwide
Senator Ardagh calls on the Department of Justice to secure the INIS website as internet "Bots" are block-booking appointments forcing non nationals seeking to renew their visas to purchase appointment slots from third parties online
Security breach on INIS webpage is adding to the backlog in visa renewal – Ardagh
- Online Bot programmes are holding applicants to ransom by charging for INIS appointments -
Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader and Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said the online appointments booking system via the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) webpage needs to be made more secure and it's functions fully restored for applicants.
Senator Ardagh raised the matter in Seanad Éireann earlier this afternoon.
She said, “The overnight queues of immigrants and non-EU nationals outside the INIS Office in Dublin city centre had become front-page news in 2016 and led to significant pressure to come up with an alternative solution.
“An online system was launched later that year which allowed applicants to sign up free of charge, six weeks in advance of an appointment to renew a visa, residence or work permit to stay in Ireland.
“It was recently discovered that this booking system had been compromised and taken advantage of by rogues who have created ‘bot’ internet programmes to automatically fill the appointment slots as they appear.
“As a consequence those in most urgent need of an appointment are left having to snap one up via a third party site where they’re being allegedly sold for €10-€25 by those running the ‘bot’ programmes or else spend months waiting for a place.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that people would make a difficult situation even worse for others by trying to monetise the process and exploit their need.
“There is no doubt that demand for visa renewal and work permits are high, it’s continued to increase year on year but now there’s an even greater backlog due to these bots holding everyone to ransom.
“The Department of Justice as I understand have halted use of the online booking system but have not put any replacement system in place. My concern now is that the overnight queues on Burgh Quay may return.
“Every effort possible must be made by the Minister for Justice to avoid that from happening and for the full restoration of a secure booking system via their webpage.”
Senator Ardagh calls on the government to review the equality legislation in light of employment discrimination towards holders of the Asylum Work Permits
Senator Ardagh comments on Budget 2019: Fianna Fáil influence has brought a fairer & more progressive Budget
- Almost 8,000 young people under 26 remain unemployed in Ireland -
Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader and Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that despite Government’s triumph of employment figures, there are no measures in Budget 2019 to address the rate of long-term youth unemployment.
Earlier this week, the National Youth Council of Ireland highlighted the fact that 7,817 young people in Ireland remain unemployed and have been without a job for 12 months or more.
Responding to yesterday’s announcements in Social Protection as part of Budget 2019, the Crumlin based Senator said, “Long-term youth unemployment remains a problem. The highest number of young people in long-term unemployment is in Dublin where some with 1,697 people aged 26 and under have no job.
“There’s a common misconception that those in receipt of social welfare payments are not interested in working or would rather sponge off the State but that’s not the case. In fact the majority are actively trying to pursue employment opportunities but to no success.
“We need to counter this by establishing an apprenticeships programme to support young people with fewer opportunities or qualifications to secure a job.
“Despite Fianna Fáil securing a number of hard fought gains in social protection in this Budget, employment inequality in our society still persists. The harsh reality is that not everyone has felt the economic recovery.
“This Government is shouting from the side-lines, lauding about reaching record highs in employment but yet there are almost 8,000 young people facing the possibility of staying on social welfare for good.
“An Ireland for All means offering adequate support to every generation, every demographic to reach their full potential. Those in their twenties or even younger deserve the best possible start on the employment ladder. Without it, the cycle of dependency on social welfare has no hope to ever change
“This Budget posed an opportunity to fund an apprenticeships programme for young people that are long term unemployed. Sadly the Government has made no effort to encourage or quip these youths to go on and secure a future in employment,” she concluded.
Acts of sexual violence should not be accepted as a feature of student life – Ardagh
Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has warned that unless substantial effort is made to eliminate the contributing factors in sexual offences carried out against women on college campuses, the number of women left suffering in silence will continue to rise.
In the past four weeks, three young female students have reported experiences of rape to the Cork Sexual Violence Centre but chose not pursue the criminal offence with Gardaí. Two of these three victims have dropped out of their respective courses and have returned home as a result of the trauma caused.
Since February, up to 50 students have reported incidents of rape and sexual assault in Galway.
Senator Ardagh raised the matter in Seanad Éirean earlier today.
“The nature of the environment in university can enable everyday sexism to thrive. The laddish banter and the attitudes and behaviours that sexualise and objectify women are so common that they become normal by default. But that doesn’t mean this is ok,” she said.
“New found freedom, a jam-packed social life and meeting new people would put any new student on a high. The threshold for consent is wrongly presumed to be even lower when there is alcohol also in the mix.
“It’s clear that the education of too many female students has been negatively affected by unwanted sexual advances or groping.
“The past 12 months have been a catalyst for examining how to eliminate the contributing factors in sexual offences against women on college campuses. It might sound assuring for a university to say it has a zero tolerance approach in place but it’s only constructive if it’s substantiated.
“A growing number of Universities and Colleges worldwide are introducing extensive training on consent and sexual attitude workshops; some have even gone so far as to make them compulsory. These certainly have a purpose in our third level institutions too.
“Sadly, victims can often decide not to make a complaint to the Gardaí because we have failed to give them the tools to be able to. Some women might not even be aware of how to go about reporting a sexual crime, how to preserve crucial evidence or be in the frame of mind to recount distressing details.
“I very much echo the calls of support groups nationwide to allocate greater resources to each of the Garda Protective Services Unit’s in Cabra, Clondalkin, Anglesea St and Dundalk.
“In the case of assaults in college, no young student should feel any pressure to choose between seeking justice for the perpetrator and obtaining their education – they should be fully supported to do both,” she concluded.
With crime increasing nationwide Senator Ardagh calls on the government to expedite the introduction of mandatory sentencing and provide greater resources to the courts